PG-13, but somehow I feel like this rating gives the movie a degree of validity. I weirdly want it to be R. I already take that back. I don't want people to confuse this movie with a good movie. Honestly, I wish this was a fan film that didn't get rated by the MPAA. Then I can give this movie validity. You know, like "Dirty Laundry", that unofficial Punisher fan film. Regardless, I can't undo an MPAA rating and it's not like that should determine a film's worth.
DIRECTORS: Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon (although only Snyder gets credit)
This movie, guys. Guys. This. Movie. First I watched The Punisher with Dolph Lundgren and then I drag my wife to see this crapstorm? The worst thing is that this movie isn't going to change things for the way I want them. I don't wish for movies to be bad. (Okay, the worst part of me actually wishes for that, but I try to temper that.) But I can't live with a 48% approval rating or whatever mediocre thing it is getting on Rotten Tomatoes. I need it to be either amazing or 2% approval rating. With the reviews it is getting, which is a hardcore "Meh", they're going to continue trying to make this universe work. They already have Aquaman filmed or mostly filmed and I know that Flashpoint and Batgirl are in some degree of production. This universe won't die and it (and I can't believe I'm advocating this) desperately desperately needs to.
Since I know that I'm going to be crapping on this movie fairly hard, I had better start with the thing I actually liked in this movie. Henry Cavill kind of seemed like Superman in this movie. Oh right, the WORST KEPT SPOILER EVER, but Henry Cavill is in Justice League as Superman. The thing I loved is that he actually smiled. He seemed like he gave a crap about other people and that there is a prayer for joy within the DCEU. This had to be an active choice. The last fifteen minutes seemed like it was a big push to say that the movies going forward might actually be somewhat joyful. That has always been my big gripe. I'm thinking of writing an article about how I would never want to live inside the DCEU. That place seems like a literal hell. Not THE literal hell, but like, a possible hell. Everything is gloomy and crap in that universe and watching Superman actually hint that the world might be a better place than we've been led to believe gives me hope for future movies. The only problem is that I won't see that happy world probably within Aquaman or Flashpoint. Harumph.
Okay, now into the gripe session to destroy all grump sessions. I've been preaching that the worst movie that I've seen in the last decade is Man of Steel. I tell people that if they like that movie, they should continue liking that movie. I never want to begrudge anyone the thing they like. Nerds, be proud of your fandom! I will continue defending your right to like Man of Steel for as long as I can. I just have to tell you that it may have put the biggest dent into my love of Superman than any other film has. Justice League isn't as bad as Man of Steel, but it definitely takes second place. Look at that list in your mind and see how telling that is. I honestly kind of liked Suicide Squad better than Justice League and Suicide Squad is kind of a hot mess. The big thing that honestly crushes me about this movie is how bad the movie looks. Zack Snyder, and this is me being very generous to the man, knows how to make a pretty looking movie. I may say that it looks ridiculous and like Michael Bay is his secret director crush, but it always is well shot and the CG, as goofy as it is, looks pretty solid. This movie looks like hot garbage. Steppenwolf looks like a video game character. I'm normally not all hung up on special effects, but there was no moment where I felt like this was even close to a real character. Cyborg had the same deal. I don't know what kind of Rob Liefeld proportions they gave that character, but I just wanted to cry at how bad he looked. I know that a lot of people had beef with the character when the trailer came out, but I thought it couldn't be that bad in the film. It was way worse in the film. The upper body with the size zero waist was hilariously goofy. The worst part is that the actor who played Cyborg, Ray Fisher, seemed to have moderately okay acting chops. But I couldn't take him seriously. No part of him looked real. This is the culmination of DCEU's efforts and it looked terrible. Then there was the backgrounds? I thought we were past making actors look bad against a green screen. The worst CG background I ever saw was the wedding on Castle, but that at least was a TV show on ABC that was not know for the CG work. Who got this contract? I sat through the closing credits because DC borrowed Marvel's traditional post-credit tease and just thought, "All these names for that result?" Golly. It was bad looking. Oh, the CG mustache removal looks like a Snapchat filter. Yup. Opening shot of the film, Superman has an itty bitty little mouth. Remember when Ant-Man had a young Michael Douglas? They couldn't get Superman's lip to look right. That's how far we missed the mark.
I know that these movies are all tonally wrong from their source materials for the most part. (I'm going to make some enemies on my Catholic boards. People who love the DCEU seem to get reallllll defensive about the tone of these movies.) But I think that's because they get one thing wrong about the characters that lead to their superhero personas to fail. I think the casting and character choices behind the secret identities are all wrong. I don't think I really like the casting of anyone in the DCEU with the exception of Wonder Woman. (Everything I say about the DCEU does not apply to Wonder Woman. That casting and execution is perfection itself and her scenes are, by far, the most watchable. ) I think the big one (and a lot of people disagree with me) is the casting of Ezra Miller as Barry Allen. I have said for a while that the DCEU needs a sense of levity, but Ezra Miller's delivery of these jokes were so bad. Like, I cringed at a lot of them. I wanted to like him beneath that goofy outfit. The Flash is a cool character and I wanted to see an awesome big screen adaptation of The Flash. But golly, I couldn't handle him. My wife just tried curling into me every time he attempted to take a joke. People called him charming and I honestly don't get it. It made not a lick of sense with his delivery choices. His backstory may have also been the most telling. I'm not talking about the last fifteen minutes, which I already established have given me hope with the franchise moving on. Barry is supposed to be smart. He's clean cut and in charge of his life. Ezra Miller's Barry is a hot mess and seems like he has some degree of Asperger's. I'm not trying to be flippant or degrading of people who have that condition. I don't even mind a superhero with that diagnosis. But that's all that his character really offers. If anything, I think it is played up for laughs. This choice didn't make sense for me. He was a lab scientist who got dosed with his own chemicals and struck by lightning. Did any of that carry over for him in this movie? This kind of seems like making Bruce Banner a Rick Jones knockoff. The fundamental character stuff wasn't there. Also, man, it looks like Ben Affleck just hates being on set. He's saying all these character lines that should make any fanboy weep with joy and he just grunts them into submission. The bulky suit really makes me cringe and something about him just looks stupid as Batman. I really like Affleck (although I don't know what I'll be saying about him after he is investigated) and I want him to be a great Batman, but he kind of sucks at it. I don't get it. The elements are there. It just seems like the execution of these elements is just the worst. Amy Adams is Lois Lane! I love Amy Adams! She sucks as Lois Lane! How? When Margot Kidder can knock it out of the park but Amy Adams adds nothing to the part? Erica Durance, also crushed it. Amy Adams...does nothing for me. She is the most weak character I've seen in these films. I guess Aquaman was okay, but he wasn't really Aquaman. I liked frat-guy Khal Drogo, but I've never seen anything near that portrayal of Arthur Curry.
Now, this brings up an interesting point that I guess should be analyzed. When Robert Downey, Jr. first played Tony Stark in the first Iron Man film, he made him way more snarky than is comic book counterpart. If anything, RDJ has changed the comic book for the better. Iron Man was a B or C level character. Yeah, he was an Avenger, but who cared. It was Captain America and company for all it mattered back then. Giving Tony Stark a personality was the best thing that could have ever been done for that character. But Jason Momoa, whom again...I like him, just took it to a weird level. The personality wasn't really added onto the original narrative, but rather supplanted by this bro who liked to punch and drink. If that isn't 21st century Khal Drogo with jokes, I don't know what it is. I don't think that acting choices should be slaves to the book. I really like RDJ and pretty much every acting choice in the MCU. Those characters took hard lefts from their book counterparts while maintaining the important threads. But the only thing that made the Justice League the Justice League was their names and powers. That was it. (Again, Gal Godot, you can relax. You nailed it.) But I never really felt like I was watching the Flash fight Superman or talk with Batman. I felt like I was watching fan films against a CG backdrop. I've been waiting for Justice League to be done right. I got really deep into a hole for George Miller's portrayal of Justice League, and I knew that casting was garbage. This was just bad. Bad bad bad bad bad. Did anyone really want to be in this movie? Maybe Henry Cavill. That guy is in in for a paycheck and nothing else. I read an article on io9 that Henry Cavill was really excited to play the Superman from the comics. I guess I kind of saw that. I read another article once that Henry Cavill cares nothing for the exercise of acting and just loves money. It was weird. I kind of feel like he wanted to redeem his character more than anyone else on set. Ezra Miller is just weird, so I don't know his intentions, but Cavill seemed to really try and give a crap in this one.
I was so bummed by how bad this movie was. Again, I liked the last fifteen minutes of it, but that was two hours of just CG trash. I guess I'm happy that Danny Elfman scored it with the classic themes attached, but it didn't really seem to match the visuals I was watching. Regardless, I'll probably end up seeing them as long as they keep making them. I guess that I'm part of the problem.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.